Something that I enjoy to do, even as much as it hurts, is to get away from the Altitude version of the Avs game, and listen/watch to the opposition's broadcast of the game. It is much more telling of what is really going on with the team.
A comment was made yesterday by the Coyote's radio broadcast team essentially saying that good teams don't have to shoot on the net 30+ times to be competitive. Take the Red Wings for example, they don't just shoot to get it on the net, the shoot to score. They make other teams look stupid the way that they can build a play and see the ice. In turn that translates to scoring chances rather than just plain shots.
This translates to the Avs needing that up-tempo game that was promised to us as fans, but also a commitment to development of the play in the neutral zone. It's not about how fast we can take it to the other end, but how well do we see the play develop in the neutral zone, catch the other team cheating defensively, then getting th odd man rush.
This also turns into a power play issue. If you aren't seeing the ice well as a team, or feeling where the open spots to skate to will be at even strength, how can that be a possibility on the pp? Jordan Leopold seems to be the only Av Defender who can get the puck to the net. Salei did it several times last year, but has yet to be seen doing it this year.
This all seems to be an extension of some of the problems faced last season. The power play was awful. It is better this year, but not by much. I remember a reporter asking Granato this summer how he intended to fix it, especially since he was the assistant on the bench who handled it. He said he would fix it, but that the up-tempo would help. Great answer huh?
All this said something seems to have happened to this team. They have lost their heart and drive. The lost it somewhere in the Detroit series last year. Then more of it walked out of the room with Brunette. Smyth looks better this year than last season, but he seems miffed. Not loving the system he is being asked to play. Stastny looks pressured, not that kid that almost won the Calder, no pressure, love the game guy we saw his rookie season. Wolski looks like he received a death threat to score goals, and that pressure is killing him. Svatos is an every other year player, so expect 10 goals. Next season it will be 30, but hey we could use it this year. He looks like he is missing a step as well, some due to surgery, some due to a lack of a consistent line mate.
Foote is the steadying force on the blue line. He can handle being the "Guy." Hannan thrives when he doesn't have to be that "Guy" and can move about freely on the ice. When he isn't that "Guy" he quits thinking and just plays the game. Salei is much the same way. It must also be noted that Clark and Leopold are playing well, and have at times been fire starters for the team.
Liles looks like the pressure to perform from last season is gone. However, his role has been elevated, and I think he is trying to figure out what that is. Several years ago I heard Liles and Norris in many conversations that broadcaster's had. That passion is gone, kind of got sucked out of him.
All in all it looks like the team has quit having fun playing together. We need two things. First a coach who can breath that type of excitement into a team. Next we need an Alexander Ovechkin type of player who gets excited game in, game out, every goal, every play. Those type of players are tough to find, but that is what we have a scouting staff for. Find one please.